Feb 29, 2012

Blessing for Learning Torah (melody by Rabbi David Paskin)

This is the traditional blessing for Learning Torah sung to a melody by Rabbi David Paskin. It is recited as an introduction to the Torah Service at Congregation Netivot Shalom in Berkeley. For more of Rabbi Paskin's Teachings, visit davidpaskin.com!

Feb 28, 2012


(c) Rabbi Menachem Creditor

We are who we are,
but we are also not.

The sneakers we wear,
the earnings, the haircuts -
each truly nothing more than a mask.

Look past those things,
into the soul of each person.

You will find that we are each
everyone who has ever been.

Feb 27, 2012

Rabbi Andrew Sacks in Jpost: "Evading service or serving God?"

Jpost: "Evading service or serving God?"
Rabbi Andrew Sacks, Director of the Masorti [Conservative] Movement's Rabbinical Assembly in Israel (the organization of Masorti/Conservative rabbis) and the Masorti Movement's Bureau of Religious Affairs.
 Pic from a Jpost article
Much of the Zealously Orthodox, non-Zionist,  Yeshiva world in Israel would appear to be populated by those who may study the words of the Torah but who invest time and effort avoiding its commandments.  How could I make such an outrageous statement? Allow me to make my case.
The Torah seems quite clear that in the event of war (i.e. when there is a need for conscription) only a very few were to be relieved of military duty. The Book of Deuteronomy (chapter 20) states that but four categories of people were to be exempted in a time of war. These included the person who has built a home and not yet dedicated it; one who has planted a vineyard but not yet enjoyed its fruit, one who has betrothed a woman but not yet married her, and one who is afraid and fainthearted.
 As many times as I read this passage I cannot find the words "And one who has turned the study of holy books into a profession." 
When the State of Israel was established, David Ben Gurion, who sought to bring the Orthodox political parties aboard, allowed a few hundred Yeshiva students to be exempted from military service. This was not such an odd position as many countries offered military deferment to the best and brightest in a variety of fields, both academic and artistic. In addition, the Yeshiva world had been decimated by the Shoah. Ben Gurion, mistakenly, believed that there was no future for this approach to Judaism. It was but a few years later that, we have now discovered, he realized his mistake.
But those few hundred deferments/exemptions have increased not to a thousand, or even to ten thousand, but  close to an astonishing seventy thousand.
The Torah asks of those who seems poised to allow others to carry the military burden while they would remain behind: "Shall your brothers go to war while you remain here?"
The traditional sources are clear that one may not remain on the public dole in order to learn Torah (exceptions were made for the exceptional scholar). A parent was obligated to teach the child a profession. The Rashbatz (commentary to Ethic of the Fathers) held that "pursuing one's profession is actually to be considered a Mitzvah from the Torah."
So, it would seem that the failure of the Yeshiva world to allow basic elementary subjects to be taught in schools may be not only a free-pass to a life of poverty but a violation of one of the 613 Mitzvot. So too the mass exemptions from the IDF would seem to violate the words of the Torah.
The rabbis of old never wanted to see the Yeshiva world filled, as it is today, with free loaders and draft evaders.   The Midrash (VaYikra Rabba) teaches: "A thousand people enter the study of Bible, and a hundred finish. A hundred enter the study of Mishnah, and from these ten finish. Ten enter the study of Talmud, one of them finishes."
This Midrash teaches that all who are able to study Torah at the highest of levels must be given an opportunity. But only those who are serious and exceptional should be permitted to move on. Yet, here in Israel these words of Hazal are ignored in the Zealously Orthodox world.
 Last week Israel's High Court decided that the practice of dividing up military service such that the Haredi population was free from putting their lives on the line in defense of the country (while being paid to study even if they were not necessarily good at their studies), while others were obligated to serve, was illegal. The judges declared the "Tal Law" to be unconstitutional. The law was originally intended to encourage greater participation in both military and civil service, as well as open a door to participation in Israel's workforce. It failed and it was discriminatory. It is now a thing of the past.
Think this is good news?  Don't pop the cork just yet.
Our Prime Minister reacted with the following: "In the coming months we will formulate a new law which will lead to a more just share of the burden of military service by all sectors of Israeli society." Allow me to translate: "We will set up a committee to see how we can word a new law that will keep the Orthodox parties happy, the Yeshiva students out of uniform, and remain in force for several more years until struck down again by the Supreme Court.
Before the chorus of haters attack me in the Talkbacks – let me make clear that I favor legislation that would make obligatory military, national, or civil service for all citizens who are able. This includes Arab citizens who could serve within their own villages if this were to be one's chosen direction. It also means equal length of time for men and women unless the army decides otherwise on a case by case basis.

The Tal law is now dead and almost buried. We have a chance to bring skills, both social and technical, to those that have long been sheltered by a world that sucks at the teat of Israeli tax payers. Those in the Haredi world need not be destined to a life of poverty. They need not hide behind black suits in order to violate the Torah.

Nobody would envision police entering into the Yeshivot and arresting the evaders. But woe to us if the government pays their way.

This will be a test of Israel's democracy. Will the Knesset find a way to allow the burden of military service, work, and taxes to be shared fairly?

Rabbi Menachem Creditor
To join Rabbi Creditor's email list, send a blank email to thetisch-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.
Check out my new album"Within" on itunes!

Feb 20, 2012

WOW Rosh Hodesh Adar

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Rosh Hodesh Shevat brought with it newcomers and our new Women Of the Wall Siddur, first edition. As usual we prayed together and out loud, but this time we were all on the same page. A unified group of women from our siddurs to our prayer shawls, we stayed warm on a particularly cold Jerusalem morning. Check out the pictures and video to share in our special service.
 Coming to Israel and want to join our services? Would you like to hear about WOW from our members? Looking to share our message with your community? Email us and we can help make it happen! 

Join us to celebrate Rosh Hodesh Adar at the Western Wall on Friday February 24,2012 at 7 AM!
This month we can provide you with our 1st Edition Women Of the Wall Siddur or you can bring your own siddur.

If you would like to lead a part of the service or hold our Sefer Torah, please contact us.

To sponsor next month's Oneg, please contact us.

We will meet under all weather conditions. Women Of the Wall are fearless. 

הינכן מוזמנות לתפילת ראש חודש אדר ביום שישי ה 24.2.12 בשעה 7:00 בבוקר בעזרת הנשים של הכותל המערבי, ובהמשך קריאה בתורה בקשת רובינזון.

.החודש נוכל לספק לכן את המהדורה הראשונה של סידור ראש חודש של נשות הכותל או תוכלו להביא את הסידור שלכן

  אם את מעוניינת להיות חזנית, לקרוא בתורה או להחזיק בספר התורה, אנא כתבי אלינו

אם ברצונך לקחת חלק במימון הכיבוד שלאחר התפילה, אנא  כתבי אלינו

Copyright © 2012 Women of the Wall, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Women of the Wall
POB 31936
Jerusalem, Israel 91319


Feb 17, 2012

What's Up @ Ramah California!

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Camp Ramah News

February 2012 * Sh'vat 5772

Featured In This Issue
Program Calendar
Business Office News
Tzevet Ramah: Opportunities for Winter Staff
Rabbi Noah Greenberg: Art and Education
Blog Alert: "Tikvah-Mishlochot" Relationship
Shabbat Times
Summer 2012
Bring the Taste of Ramah to Your Home
Rabbi Joe's Reflections from Israel

Ramah Programs


Feb 26th, 2011  

Prospective Family Tour 


April 6 - 15th:

Pesach Institute 


April 27 - 29, 2012

Ruach Nashim 

(Women's Spirituality) 


May 11 - 13, 2012

Family Weekend 


June 1 - 3, 2012

Ramah Young Alumni Shabbat 


August  5th

Yom Kehillah (Visitor's Day)


August 17 - 22, 2012

Ohr Lanu (Special Needs Family Camp)   

From the Business Office


Forms, Forms, Forms...


Now available online


All required summer camp forms are now available online. Please log into your Ramah Account and click the Forms Dashboard to see a complete list of all required forms and their due dates. 


Instructions are available on each form.  If you have any questions or need assistance, please call our office at (310) 476-8571, and a member of our team will be happy to assist you. 


Please see our website for detailed information:


Attention Tzevet Ramah! 
We need YOU!  Are you interested in being a madrich, madricha, or moomcheh/
moomchit during our winter programs? If so, please email Amy or Lesley.
Winter program dates: 
February 24th-26th
March 23rd-25th
Contact us ASAP to let us know your interest and availability.
Rabbi Noah Greenberg: Artwork and Education
Many chanichim and madrichim can recall their amazing experiences with Rabbi Noah Greenberg. Whether he is discussing his shtender, or teaching how to make t'fillin, Rabbi Greenberg plays an important part in our summer program. Recently, Rabbi Greenberg's ability to educate people through his craft was featured in "Mishpacha" magazine.  Click here to read the full article and learn more about Rabbi Noah Greenberg.
Kesher Tefillin Workshop
Blog Alert!
This blog was created recently by Jay Ruderman of the Ruderman Foundation. This Foundation now supports Ramah special needs programs and has been a pioneer in advancing the cause of Jewish special needs education in North America. Please read the recent blog posting by Howard Blas about the loving "Tikvah-Mishlochot" relationship!

LimmudLA is looking for 

counselors for the Children's Program at the 

LimmudLA 2012 Conference!

Counselors will come to the conference for FREE, and will help the kids have a great conference, too.

Email yechiel@limmudla.org if you are interested, or please pass this on to someone who may be interested.  Please visit limmudla.org for more information.

Friday Night Candle-Lighting Times

(Los Angeles)


Fri, Feb. 17: 5:21 p.m.


Fri, Feb. 24: 5:27 p.m.


Fri, March 2: 5:33 p.m.


Fri, March 9: 5:39 p.m.



shabbat candels

Summer 2012 

Spots are filling up!

Whacky Boys 

NOW is the time to register for our 2012 season! 

 A summer at Ramah brings together friends, fun activities, Jewish celebration and learning to make a lifelong impact.  Campers enjoy sports, aquatics, arts, outdoor adventures, Shabbat celebrations and lots more under the guidance of our accomplished staff members. 


Click here to access our online application!


Click here to learn about incentives, discounts, and future "Virtual Open Houses".


Questions?  Contact Karmi Monsher, Outreach Coordinator, at karmi@ramah.org



1st Session (entering grades 4-10): June 20 - July 17

2nd Session (entering grades 4-10): July 19 - Aug 15  

Gesher A (entering grades 3-4): June 20 - July 3

Gesher B (entering grades 4-5): July 4 - 17

Gesher C (entering grades 3-4): July 19 - Aug 1

Gesher D (entering grades 4-5): Aug 2 - 15

*Tikvah programs begin on June 21st and July 20th respectively.

Join Us For A

Prospective Family Tour

Visit Beautiful Camp Ramah in Ojai

Sunday, February 26th at 1:00 pm 

Campers hanging out 2011

Giving thought to Summer 2012? 


Take advantage of our upcoming Prospective Family Tour:  


*Get a Feel for Camp Activities

*Take a look inside a cabin and tour the facility  

*Meet Some of Our Staff  

*Get Your Questions Answered


RSVP to Karmi at karmi@ramah.org 

Join Us! Virtual Open Houses   


Interested in a Ramah summer prograwomanoncomputerm?  Join us online to learn more about our program, staff, enrollment process and more.  Grab your lunch and join us on the first Wednesday of each month at 12:30pm or pour a cup of coffee and join us on the third Tuesday of each month at 7:30pm. Click on the following dates to register:


Tuesday, February 21st @ 7:30pm PST

 Wednesday, March 7th @ 12:30 pm PST 


How To Bring A Little Taste Of Ramah Into Your Home


During our summer sessions, chanichim (campers) have the opportunity to participate in various chuggim (electives), ranging from drama and photography to cooking and krav m'gah (self defense). In one of our chuggim, Outdoor/Ropes Course instructor Amir Firestone taught chanichim to make fresh tea using the ingredients found around camp and in our new organic garden.  Chanichim have been eager to share this recipe with family and friends, and now, courtesy of Amir, we are able to share it with you!  Please feel free to share with us your thoughts on this recipe, and send pictures of you preparing and enjoying this tea to info@ramah.org!




Black Sage


Fennel (seeds and leaves) 








1 Pitcher

Cups (for drinking the final product)

Hot water source

1 Mixing spoon

1 Strainer or filters




Step 1: Pour hot water into a pitcher filled with fresh mint, sage, and fennel (seeds and leaves)


Step 2: After about a minute, take out the sage (because it will become bitter if steeped too long) and squeeze in lemon juice.


Step 3: Pour in sugar to taste. Mix


Step 4: Dump a lot of ice cubes into the pitcher until it is almost full.


Step 5: Strain and serve.


Note: If the pitcher is made of plastic, use something different to hold the tea until after Step 4.


Step 6: Pour, drink, and enjoy!

 Leaving Your Legacy 


Because YOU, and others like you, choose to create a legacy with Ramah TODAY, we can imagine Camp Ramah 50+ years from now.  Over a century old, Ramah continues to welcome generations of campers, strengthen connections to Jewish tradition and create special friendships that will last a lifetime.  It continues to thrive after all this time thanks to those who thought ahead decades earlier and decided to leave a legacy with Ramah in their estate plans.


A planned gift to Ramah offers you the opportunity to be remembered by future generations as one who helped make a difference.  While there are numerous options available, the simplest way to leave your legacy is by bequest.  You may name Camp Ramah in California as the beneficiary in your will or living trust in the following ways:   


A Specific Bequest specifies that Camp Ramah will receive a designated sum, or a particular number of shares of stock, or a piece of real estate, etc.


A Percentage Bequest specifies that a predetermined percentage of your estate will go to Camp Ramah. 

A Residuary Bequest directs that everything remaining in your estate (after all other bequests have been distributed) will be directed to Camp Ramah.


Please be sure to check with your professional advisor for the proper wording and/or to seek additional advice in meeting your charitable and financial goals.


   If you have already included Ramah in your estate plans, we'd love to know!  We'd be honored to welcome you into the Alon Binyamin Legacy Circle and recognize your thoughtful generosity. 


If you'd like to discuss the creation of a bequest, or explore the numerous other planned giving options, please contact Ilana Ormond, Director of Development, at 
We would be truly honored to steward your legacy for generations to come!
Reflections from Israel
by Rabbi Joe Menashe
It'd been a decade since my summer work at Camp Ramah, and yet much of my entry back into the community has felt familiar.  My favorite example is that the smell walking into the office at camp had not changed since my last summer in 1999.  It was not a bad smell, just distinctive and the experience was oddly comforting, reminding me of many late night meetings during my years on staff in Ojai.


However, the single change over the years that surprises me the most is the growth and impact of our mishlachat - the young Israelis who come to work at Ramah for the summer as "ambassadors" for Israel.  Each summer a couple dozen Israelis, who have passed a highly competitive application process, serve our community teaching about Israel, and working on the ropes course, at the pool, in a myriad of chuggim, and even as madrichim for our older campers.  I can neither understate the impact these Israelis have on our American campers and staff, nor can I under represent how fundamentally transformative the Ramah experience is on the shlichim.


While Ojai is nearly 8,000 miles from Jerusalem, our summer experience feels intimately connected to the sacred beauty and complex nuances of our homeland.  Amy and I recently returned from Israel where we had the opportunity to visit many of our Ramahnikim in Israel and interview a new class of talented and diverse Israelis who are going to join 15 returning members of our mishlachat.  We look forward to welcoming these shlichim into our Ramah California community and, after returning from Israel, are excited as ever for an incredible kayitz 2012.


Rabbi Joe


The Camp Ramah in California
Year-Round Staff

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